On a clear but somewhat chilly night at The Oval, Middlesex easily retained the Pemberton Greenish Cup, with a convincing win over their London rivals Surrey.
The evening began with the presentation of a county cap to Surrey’s veteran glove-butler Kirstie White, who has had a great start to the season, and recently made her highest score for the club – a 76 which carried them to victory against Yorkshire in the County Championship.
Out in the middle, Middlesex won the toss and elected to bat, and despite losing two early wickets (Tash Miles, LBW to Nat Sciver for a duck, and Sophia Dunkley, stumped off Amy Jenkins for 5) they made the most of the powerplay, reaching 44-2 from the first 6 overs, as Beth Morgan took a fancy to some inviting boundaries all around the wicket.
Morgan was eventually out for 31; but Izzy Westbury then picked up the scoring rate again in the middle overs, playing some inventive reverses alongside more classical shots on her way to an entertaining 22.
Surrey took wickets at regular intervals, with Kirstie White stealing 3 stumpings and a catch, but Middlesex continued to find the boundary often enough to finish on 123-9, with India Whitty 14 not out at the end.
In reply, Surrey needed runs from White – their leading run scorer in the County Championship – and/ or Nat Sciver, but both were out cheaply: White stumped by Whitty off Hartley for 1; and Sciver caught by Westbury at cover off Naomi Dattani for 5.
Thereafter, the worm tells the story: Surrey were behind the rate from the first over, and slowly slipped further and further into the red, as Middlesex excelled in the field – Whitty making 4 stumpings; Tash Miles superbly running out Sophie Pout for a duck at the non-striker’s end, with a direct hit from point; and Sophia Dunkley taking a fantastic catch, diving forward at mid on, to dismiss Amy Jenkins off Alex Hartley.
Although Holly Huddleston dropped Holly Knight off a very difficult chance in the 17th over, by that stage it was all somewhat academic, with Surrey having largely given up the chase; but Middlesex kept plugging away, and the hosts were eventually bowled out in the final over for just 88.
Afterwards, Man of the Match Beth Morgan told CRICKETher that days like this are what brought her back out of last year’s semi-retirement:
“[The Oval] is an amazing place to play cricket – this is what it is all about – I love it – I love being part of it and as long as I can play, I want to play.”
The coming of the 50-over Kia Super League in 2017 means that many of tonight’s stars will no longer be playing county cricket after this season, so the future of this fixture in its current format has to be somewhat uncertain; but with over 1,000 local schoolgirls having attended the coaching clinics which were held earlier in the day, with the chance to be inspired by the likes of Charlotte Edwards, Heather Knight, and Danni Wyatt (to name but three) it must be hoped that this is not the last we’ve seen of the Pemberton Greenish Cup.